The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced its plans to create a new competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will replace the Competition Commission as well as take over the all competition functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT. According to Business Minister, Norman Lamb, the new regulatory regime will be more streamlined and less of a burden on business while having increased power to investigate anti-competitive behaviour. The new authority will be operational by April 2014.
Lamb commented that ”We want to see a simpler, more streamlined structure so that a single competition authority can provide strong leadership and improve the speed and quality of decisions for business. Above all competition drives prices down and quality up, which benefits consumers and improves UK productivity and growth.”
Reform of the current structure is long overdue, with increasingly lengthy investigations often bogged down in detail and reaching what many regard as unsatisfactory conclusions. Effective competition policy should be capable of quickly rooting out anti-competitive behaviour while at the same not deterring domestic enterprise or foreign investment – this is central to improving the long term competitiveness of the UK economy, which itself will help sustain growth improve job prospects.